Cyclocross World Champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) shocked many by taking the win in the Tour of Belgium’s opening prologue over multi-time Time Trial World Champion, Germany’s Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep).
The 6k course was flat, but featured a number of turns, which van Aert, when speaking with Belgian press, said may have benefitted him. “We all know someone like Tony Martin is a real locomotive. With his power, he makes the difference on the straights. But negotiating a bend, I can maybe win half a second. And that makes lot in a prologue of a little over six kilometers,” said the Cyclocross World Champion, hinting that it was his handling prowess that gave him the edge.
— Red Bull Belgium (@RedBullBe) May 25, 2016
With the win over Martin and IAM Cycling’s Reto Hollenstein, who was third, van Aert took a two second lead going into stage one. Yesterday’s first stage was won by van Aert’s countryman, Belgian Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) but van Aert was able to hold onto his lead.
— Wout van Aert (@WoutvanAert) May 25, 2016
It wasn’t until today’s second stage that van Aert relinquished the leader’s jersey to Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling) who not only took the overall lead, but also won the stage.
— Wout van Aert (@WoutvanAert) May 27, 2016
When asked by Belgian press about the pressure of performing on the road, van Aert was quick to dismiss such concerns. “I can spend the summer without too much pressure and stress,” he said, before adding that it is “[n]o problem for me…. I’m just happy to also be able to ride on the road.” Van Aert now sits in 9th place, 39 seconds down on the leader Devenyns.
The Tour of Belgium continues tomorrow with the race’s longest stage, a 207k jaunt that starts and finishes in Verviers, Belgium.